Meeting student needs | Queen’s Gazette

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Student Wellness Services provides support for thousands of students at Queen’s each year, and it has recently launched or expanded several initiatives to help meet the needs of the campus community. These programs aim to increase access to a variety of types of care and support that help students thrive personally and academically.

“The COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on the evolving needs of our students, and we have been working hard to ensure we are providing the care they need in a timely manner and in a way that makes them feel comfortable,” says Cynthia Gibney, Executive Director, SWS. “We are already seeing success with new initiatives that support students with mental health counselling, gender-affirming care, and academic accommodations support. We’ll continue to listen to the needs of students and work to make our services as accessible as possible.”

Daily mental health walk-in clinic

To help increase access to in-person mental health counselling, SWS is now offering a walk-in clinic in Mitchell Hall, Monday to Friday, 1-4 p.m. This walk-in option supplements existing counseling services offered by appointment and weekly therapy groups through SWS, as well as 24/7 services, including Empower Me and GOOD2Talk. Feedback indicates students feel less distressed after visiting the walk-in clinic.

Transcare Team

SWS has established a team of primary care and mental health professionals with specialization in gender-affirming care to provide holistic support to students at any stage of a transition. The Transcare Team meets regularly to learn from each other, share information and reports from community members doing this work, and discuss complex trans-related circumstances, as needed. Student feedback will continue to inform efforts to enhance inclusive care across SWS for 2SLGBTQIA+ student communities.

To help ensure students feel comfortable accessing gender-affirming care at SWS, the Transcare Team has recently created an online self-referral tool so students can make appointments without needing to call.

Enhanced support for academic accommodations

Queen’s Student Accessibility Services (QSAS), in SWS, works with campus partners and students to help remove disability-related academic barriers through individualized academic accommodations. This fall, QSAS has introduced daily drop-in appointments for students with quick questions. Accessibility advisors are now portfolio-based by faculty or discipline to enhance collaborations with faculty members, faculty offices, and embedded counsellors in faculties and schools.

The faculty-specific advising also allows QSAS advisors to use their knowledge about programs and classes to better understand where barriers may arise for students, enabling them to identify the most appropriate academic accommodations to enable equal access to learning opportunities, while upholding academic integrity and maintaining standard academic challenge. This new model also aims to promote quicker, more holistic, and more collaborative responses to supporting student needs in the classroom.

QSAS has also streamlined its intake process this year to respond to the doubling of student registrants since 2020, and released an online Student Intake Guide. It’s an all-in-one resource that introduces QSAS, its team, services and supports, and provides detailed information on processes and documentation requirements.

Student-led programs increase access to healthy food

The results from the 2023 Shift Survey include increased student reports of food insecurity. The food access programs offered by the Peer Health Educator team in SWS are increasing efforts to connect more students with healthy food and budget-friendly cooking tips. These programs include Fresh Food Boxes, Mason Jar Meals, and Healthy Cooking Sessions.

Vaccine clinics

SWS works to protect the Queen’s community from respiratory viruses each year by holding vaccine clinics. This fall, clinics offered flu and COVID-19 vaccines in Mitchell Hall for students, faculty, and staff. They administered 1,919 COVID-19 vaccines and 2,320 flu vaccines.

Learn more on the SWS website.

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